2009 in review

Gosh, I think this might be the first time I’ve thought about a year in review and didn’t have all that many great things to say about it. There’s plenty to write home about, sure, but as a whole I’m kind of glad to see 2009 go. But a tradition is a tradition, so here we go.

High and low lights, and a few adventures

  • First, and probably most importantly, I worked entirely too much. With all that work I accomplished a lot that I’m really proud of, but it came at a cost. I didn’t take very good care of myself in 2009. As a result I don’t feel all that great. I got pretty sick twice, lost my voice for an entire month, weigh more today than I ever have, and was just so damned tired all the time I watched a lot of stupid TV and forgettable movies instead of doing stuff I’ll remember. That sucks. I’m convinced there’s a way to accomplish great things and not kill myself and I’m going to figure it out in 2010, come hell or high water as my mother would say.
  • I went on a pilgrimage to my family’s old apartment in Germany. Brennan spent part of the summer teaching next door in Mainz, and I joined him near the end of his seminar for a spectacular and much-needed vacation. One day while Brennan was teaching, I ventured out to Wiesbaden. The train/bus/hike to the old apartment was so complicated I almost turned back a couple times, but I’m so very happy I didn’t. The old building was still there, the trees I used to climb in and the very same sidewalk. Seeing it all made me cry like a baby. It was the strangest sensation – it didn’t feel sad at all, but I was bawling all the same. My theory is that so many memories flooded my brain all at once that it couldn’t process them, and the next best thing to clear the slate is to cry.
  • Karyn and I launched our Echo project, online at least. Once the weather gets nicer we’ll throw a lovely party. I’m really proud of us for sticking with it, even when finding the time became impossible.
  • Hands down the greatest Christmas party moment EVER happened this year, when Karyn’s string orchestra played “Don’t Stop Believin’” in the living room and my very full house of friends and family screamed along in perfect drunken merry unison. The house literally shook and I smiled just about as wide as I can remember.

Data obsessed

This was the year I became fairly obsessed with tracking all sorts of personal data. Perhaps because I read “The Numerati” late in 2008, or maybe I unknowingly hitched on to a bonafide trend (but most likely because a colleague and friend tracked New Years resolutions progress on his blog a few years back and I thought it was pretty nifty) I started tracking all sorts of things and taking delight in watching the charts stack up. You really do learn things about yourself by tracking tiny slivers of info over time.

  • HappyFactor taught me that I am least happy on Tuesdays. Who knew? Also, my happiest words are, not surprisingly, “friends” and “dinner,” while my least happy word is (of course!) “meeting.”
  • Last.fm revealed that my favorite band of 2009, at least by iTunes plays, was The Dodos. If you’d asked me to guess the band I’d played the most I almost certainly wouldn’t have put the Dodos even in the top 5, but thanks to all that data I know the truth. (And actually they’re pretty great, the new record especially.)
  • Tweetstats tells me that I’ve basically given up on Twitter in the past few months, but I suppose I didn’t need a data viz to tell me that. I think I’m just taking a little break for now. I noticed in the stats that I’m more prolific on Saturdays, the day of the week most likely to include an adventure, which tells me that my tweeting is more about broadcasting and less about talking.
  • Dopplr, perhaps my favorite tracker tool, makes it pretty clear that I spent a ton of time away from home this year. My brand new Delta gold card confirms it. Top destinations this year were San Francisco and New York, pretty awesome as far as destinations go, but my favorite by a mile was Berlin.
  • My Flickr dinner set tells me we didn’t cook at home quite as much this year. Only 87 photos in the 2009 set, compared to 128 in 2006. Gotta do better in 2010.

Next year I should track stuff like the books I read and the adventures I took.

I should also mention that there was plenty of terrific in 2009 — the loveliest husband, wonderful friends and family, work I love, my sister’s getting married!, learned a lot, formed The Snake Nation — but next year when I look back I want it to feel different. Different as in, the personal stuff should get equal billing with the professional, not be a miracle that happened in the edges and sidelines when I found some space to tune out. I think balance is the word I’m looking for.

Here’s to 2010.